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How to get a Merchant Account/Requirements

Nov 5th, 2011

To get a Merchant Account, you must have and/or be able to provide at least the following:

  • A business checking account
  • A valid US ID (proof of legal immigration status for non-US citizens)
  • A US business address
  • Articles of Incorporation (if applicable; required for LLCs, INCs, LLPs, etc)
  • A Tax ID/EIN for your business
  • All required business licenses * (State, County, City, Municipality, State Contractors License, etc)
  • A website (if applying for an Internet Merchant Account)

*Depending on regional legislation and requirements, you might need more than one business license. Please check your local requirements, as they vary greatly.

Good to have:

  • Reseller Permit/Resale Certificate
  • Fictitious Name Certificates/DBAs
  • Business Cards (matching the business address on your business license)
  • Certificate of Good Standing (if applicable)
  • Certifications & Credentials

The above list outlines the typical documents required. Your local bank’s requirements might be different – please check with them.

Please be advised that the above list is a guideline.
Your application might still get declined, based on a variety of additional factors.

Some of most common factors (and reasons for denial) are:

** In a personal conversation, Bank of America Merchant Services outlined the reason for a personal credit check as follows:

The best way to describe why the credit check is needed is that we give ‘gross deposits’ when a transaction is done, meaning we don’t keep any of the money for the sale. We take our rates & fees on the 2nd day of the following month.
So, let’s say you are a car dealership. The average transaction amount is about $10,000 per sale. If we are charging you 2.05% per transaction , then that’s $205 per transaction that we don’t collect until the following month.
If you sell 20 cars that month using a credit card, then you have over $4,000 of the banks money in your account. If for some reason you decide to close the account and take that money, we can’t go after a corporation to get our money back. We have to go after an individual.
It’s basically a 30 day loan every month. For any loan, you know a credit check is done as part of the loan process… No matter how big or small… Even if you are just trying to buy a cell phone.

Bank of America Merchant Services Rep

*** Your business might be a so-called High-Risk Business or Merchant or you might even find your business on the list of Unacceptable Merchants.

**** The MATCH/TMF File is used by MasterCard and Visa processing banks (acquiring banks) to identify merchants and principals who had their merchant account privileges terminated in the past.